Although the genes for four hematopoietic colony-stimulating factors (CSFs) have been cloned, neither the mechanism of the regulation of their production nor their cellular origins have been established with certainty. Monocytes are known to produce colony-stimulating and burst- promoting activities, as well as several monokines such as interleukin- 1 (IL-1) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF). These monokines indirectly stimulate other mesenchymal cells to produce certain colony-stimulating factors such as granulocyte-macrophage CSF (GM-CSF). To determine whether monocytes produce other CSFs and if so, to compare the mechanism of regulation of production with that of endothelial cells and fibroblasts, we investigated the synthesis of CSFs by monocytes, human umbilical vein endothelial cells, and fibroblasts. We used total cellular RNA blot analysis to determine interleukin-3 (IL-3), GM-CSF, granulocyte CSF (G-CSF), and monocyte CSF (M-CSF) messenger RNA (mRNA) content and immunoprecipitation or bioassay to confirm the presence of the specific secreted proteins. The results indicate that M-CSF mRNA and protein are produced constitutively by all three cell types and their level of expression does not increase after induction. In contrast, GM-CSF and G-CSF mRNAs are barely detectable in uninduced monocytes and show an increase in expression after lipopolysaccharide treatment. Retrovirus-immortalized endothelial cells, unlike primary endothelial cells or both primary and immortalized fibroblasts, produce IL-1 constitutively; this correlates with their constitutive production of GM-CSF and G-CSF. IL-3 mRNA was not detectable in any of these cells either before or after induction. The results indicate that these mesenchymal cells can produce three CSFs: GM-CSF, G-CSF, and M-CSF; furthermore, the data suggest that the mechanism of regulation of M-CSF production is different from that of GM-CSF and G-CSF, and that the latter two inducible CSFs are regulated by different factors in monocytes compared with the other mesenchymal cells.